This morning’s Second Reading at Vigils was from the wonderful Christmas Sermons of Blessed Guerric of Igny (+1157), one of the Four Evangelists of the Order of Cîteaux. Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face (1873-1897) would have loved this sermon, as would have Dom Vital Léhodey (1857-1948)). I will not give the indescribably succulent Latin text today: just the translation I managed to cobble together a few years ago.
The First Lesson
I give Thee thanks, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, that Thou hast hidden Thy wisdom from the wise and the prudent, and revealed it to the very little ones.
Yes, Father, this was pleasing in Thy sight; that to the very little was given the very little One Who was born for us! In fact, the greatness of the proud is exceedingly abhorrent to the humility of this very little One, and what is grand in the eyes of men is abominable in the presence of Him, Who being great in truth, made Himself very little for us. Make no mistake about it, this very little One is at home only among the very little, and it is only among the humble and the quiet-hearted that he takes His rest.
And therefore, just as the glory of the very little is to sing concerning HIm: Unto us a little child is born; so too, does He glory in them, saying: Behold, here I am, and the children that God has given me. In effect, so as to give His Son, become a little child, playmates of His own age, the Father willed that the very little Innocents should harbinger the glory of martyrdom. Thus does the Holy Spirit signify that the Kingdom of Heaven is for none save those who resemble them.
The Second Lesson
If we want to like them, my brothers, let us return to Bethlehem again and again (iterum atque iterum), and let us gaze with loving attention upon this Word that has become flesh, the Immense God become a very little child: so that in this visible and abbreviated Word we might come to know the wisdom of God that has become all humility.
It is in the mightiness seen there that all mightiness willed to dwell for a time. For a time, supreme Wisdom willed to know nothing apart from this humility, which later on she would teach.
This very little One — and I say this to my own affront — this little One, I say, rightly and justly made Himself the master and lesson of humility, since having personal knowledge of it — by His origin, He held it from His mother, and by His nature, from His Father — He learned it nonethless, from His mother’s womb, by all that He had to suffer.
The Third Lesson|He was born in a shelter for travelers, so that we, instructed by His example, might own ourselves to be strangers and pilgrims on earth. Moreover, He chose the last place of all, being laid in a manger; so that we might grasp David’s oracle: I have chosen to be an outcast in the house of God, rather than to dwell in the tents of sinners. He was wrapped in swaddling clothes: so that we, having enough to cover ourselves, might be content therewith.
In all things, He was content with the poverty of His mother; in all things he was submissive to His mother, and this so that the very form of all religious life would be born in His birth.